There was a group of American Army infantry at Airlie Beach today and I have never seen a more disgusting display of mankind. I successfully got a conversation out of 3 people. After that, it was just “show me your tits” or “that booty, oh what I’d love to do to that” or “you are so beautiful, come here baby”. However, that’s not the point of this article. One of the three with half a brain was getting pounded by me with questions. I’m always curious if army men agree with what goes on in the world, or if they do it because they feel like they have to. I’ve never been or had contact with many army folk, so I wanted to get a picture (other than the display I saw).
The American forces don’t exactly have a reputation for being the most dignified beings. They are known to be a bit cocky, dirty towards women, drunk, and ruthless. However, they are also known to be very good at their job. So one of the first questions I asked was if the way we treated civilians in Vietnam was real and if all the other stereotypes were real. He did say he doesn’t know because he wasn’t there, but when he was deployed to Afghanistan, the soldiers did everything right. No murders, no rapes, nothing that made him lose faith in humanity.
I also asked him what he thought of the rigour and strict discipline and to what except he was allowed to go against orders. He was saying maybe in the old days, never question a superior, but from what he has seen, he has been allowed to question so long as he comes back with an idea and why he thinks the order could be improved. He says he never tells his subordinates how to do something because then it won’t be done as well and he has never been in trouble for denying an order. It’s actually refreshing to hear that because I’ve always been a questioner, so through this I have discovered some awesome ideas and goals.
The interesting thing was when I asked about whether or not he agrees with the military system as a whole. He wasn’t shy to tell me no, he wasn’t. He believes in mandatory service and also believes war is a last resort. He does say the number of times he felt we shouldn’t have sent troops is quite a few and has said he is proud to serve his country, but he wishes his talents were used sparingly because he said “you can’t come back from war”. He’s right though. You can’t unsee a school getting bombed, you can’t unsee a man who lost his jaw, you can’t unsee the person fall after you shot him. There is no way to be able to get rid of the memories, but only learn to deal with them.
My last question before we parted was if he wanted to go back to war after having seen and been through so much. And he said yes. He said there is no greater bond in brotherhood, no greater high, no more challenging problem to solve than war. There’s no winner and loser, there is only just winner and dead, so the stakes are so much higher. But he also said he doesn’t his guys want to go to war. He doesn’t want to expose his team to what he saw and certainly wants to preserve their innocence as long as possible. It’s actually a really impressive answer. He said “someone has to do bad things to bad people,” and he was happy to take on that responsibility.
All in all, I don’t know if he speaks for the entire military or he speaks for himself, but the conversation I had with him really spoke to me. Here’s just a good guy happy to serve his country in a way he knows how to, just like teachers and doctors and lawyers. And he did give me an insight to a world I’ve never seen. It just goes to show you how much you can learn if you just bother to ask.